Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Jerry Flores's "Caught Up"

Jerry Flores is a Ford Foundation Fellow, University of California President’s Postdoc, and Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice in the Social Work and Criminal Justice Program at the University of Washington, Tacoma.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Caught Up: Girls, Surveillance, and Wraparound Incarceration, and reported the following:
When you turn to page 99 in Caught Up, you find a discussion about Mari a 16-year-old Latina girl from southern California and her experiences at school. On this page, Mari describes her return to traditional school after lengthy periods in El Valle Juvenile Detention Facility and Legacy Alternative School, my two field sites. Unlike most of the young women in my study and most young people at this school, Maria was successful at Legacy and returned to her home school. Excited about her accomplishment, she expected to successfully complete high school, graduate like a “normal” young woman and never return to the inside of a jail cell. Despite these expectations, her return to school was a complete disaster. After being academically successful at Legacy, she felt teachers at her new school refused to answer her questions or offer her academic support. Additionally, she discusses how instructors viewed her as a “chola” or Latina gang member because of her previous time in detention, make up, and style of dress. Given these negative racialized and gendered perceptions, teachers and school administrators eventually punished her for multiple minor infractions, ultimately pushing her out of school all together. Her experiences, like the experiences of other previously incarcerated Latina/o youth and youth of color, are all too typical in American schools. This treatment sends the message that no matter how well you do and how much time you spend away from a life behind bars, young people like Mari will not find redemption after a life behind bars.

As a whole, Caught Up discusses the experiences of young Latinas at home, in detention, and at school. The book shows how these youths first come into contact with the criminal justice system, reveals how their lives change when they are locked up, and sheds light on their experiences struggling to transition away from a life of crime. The book also lays out low cost strategies for helping young people leave the criminal justice system and return to a “normal” and productive life. All and all, this text provides an intimate look at the interpersonal and institutional challenges these young women face when attempting to negotiate the increasingly connected US educational and penal systems.
Learn more about Caught Up at the University of California Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue